James A. Wilson, PhD

James A. Wilson, PhD

Dr. James A. Wilson, Jr. was born in the early morning hours of January 20, 1961 to James and Bessie Wilson in Texas City, Texas.  As a child, he united with King Memorial United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas and decided to trust in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior as an adult. He was educated in the Dallas public school system and was blessed to be raised by parents who filled his home with music and literature from all genres.  His father insisted that he become a musician, and at an early age James began playing the piano and the clarinet.  He flourished as a musician throughout his education and was particularly proud to be a five-year member of the University of Texas Longhorn Band.  He pledged Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. in the spring of 1982, and he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in political science and education from the University of Texas at Austin in 1984. After his graduation from UT, Dr. Wilson began a travel journey that would eventually span for more than 35 years.  He traveled extensively throughout the African continent and the world. His love for the study of African history and culture began during his tour with the United States Peace Corps in Kenya from 1985 to 1988, where he taught English and African literature at Kitumbi High School located 7,000 feet in the mountains of Taita Hills, Kenya. Over the years, he personally assisted over 50 candidates to apply and become Peace Corps volunteers.

Dr. Wilson went on to receive his Master of Professional Studies degree in African and African-American History from Cornell University. He continued his studies and earned a certificate in African Languages from the University of Florida and served as a research fellow at Oxford and Cambridge Universities as well as the University of Nairobi. He then attended Princeton University, where he earned a masters and a doctoral degree in history in June 2003.  After his graduation from Princeton, Dr. Wilson began his academic career at Wake Forest University, and he later served as a professor of history at the University of Texas where he specialized in the political history of Kenya, British colonialism, and post-colonial African affairs as it relates to globalization. He also held affiliated appointments with the Center for African and African-American Studies, the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, and the UT Plan II Honors Program.

Dr. Wilson joined the ranks of the Academic Affairs Division at Prairie View A&M University in September of 2009 as Director of the Honors Program. The following year, he was named Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. As a result of nurturing high academic expectations and performance, 98-percent of the Honors students completed their degrees in four years and entered top-ranked medical, law, and graduate schools. Throughout his tenure at PVAMU, Dr. Wilson established and enhanced foreign language and study abroad opportunities for students to study Chinese and Arabic. Dr.  Wilson also established a Confucius Institute on the PVAMU campus in 2014 and launched a partnership with Xi’an International Studies University (XISU) in Xi’an China. He also developed a foreign language partnership with Middlebury College. Under his direction, more than 225 students have studied abroad in Ghana, South Africa, Korea, China, Morocco, France and Italy. Dr. Wilson’s work at PVAMU extended to student-leadership development, and he created a leadership and mentoring program for African-American young men called, Brothers Leading and Cultivating Knowledge, also known as B.L.A.C.K. He later established a sister organization, Purple Jackets, for outstanding young female student leaders.

Dr. Wilson was the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Phi Beta Kappa Award for Distinction in Teaching from UT. In 2003, he was awarded the Franklin H. Williams Award for Outstanding Community Service from the United States Peace Corps. He was a 2004 recipient of the “Outstanding Young Texas Exes Award” given by the University of Texas. During his academic career, he was honored with a number of awards, including The Rollins Prize in History from Princeton University and the “Keepers of the Dream” Outstanding Academic Award from the University of Florida.  Most recently, Dr. Wilson, worked as Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Director of Faculty Innovation and Enhancement (FIE) at Prairie View A&M University, and was tremendously grateful to be announced by The American Council on Education (ACE) as an ACE Fellow with Rice University for its 2019-20 program. 

Preceding James in death was his beloved mother, Bessie B. Wilson.  James leaves to cherish his memories: his father, James A. Wilson, Sr., his sister, Letisha Hamilton (Bobby), his nephews, Jonathan (Amber), Zachary, his niece, Natalie, his uncles, Walter K. Ball, Floyd C. Ball (Lois), his aunt, Lucille Williams, and a host of cousins, colleagues, friends, and students.





Visitation
Friday, June 19, 2020
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Friendship Community Bible Church
420 Wood Street, Sugar Land, Texas

Funeral Service
Saturday, June 20, 2020
11:00 am
Friendship Community Bible Church
420 Wood Street, Sugar Land, Texas

Interment
Monday, June 22, 2020
Laurel Land Cemetery
Dallas, Texas

Comments
  • June 18, 2020 Reply
    Charles H Lewter IV

    I will truly miss my friend first and colleague second. Dr. Wilson and I were the best of friends at PVAMU. He was like the tall brother that I never had. We would often talk about our dreams and aspirations. We loved going to Chili’s to eat our chicken wings and talk about life. Our conversations were authentic and honesty. He loved his family and his students. He also loved Jesus Christ, his personal Lord and Savior. I know that he is with the Lord…just wished we had more time to talk about our dreams beyond the flagpoles. I am going to miss him dearly. Until we meet again on the other side. Rest my brother and remember that God loved you more.

  • June 18, 2020 Reply
    Melicent Marie Lewis

    Praying for the family. We pray strength for Dr. Wilson’s family and his Prairie View A&M University Family.

  • June 18, 2020 Reply
    Cassandra R. Davis

    Dr. Wilson was my professor at Wake Forest University. He was incredibly passionate and pushed me harder than any other professor. He challenged me in ways that I still think of today, more than 15 years ago. Today, I am a professor myself and constantly think of how he pushed me past my comfort. I do the same thing with my students and hope I am able to impact them as he impacted me. Have a safe journey home Dr. Wilson.
    Your student,
    Cassandra

  • June 19, 2020 Reply
    Mattye Gouldsby Jones

    Dr. Wilson, “Jimmy”, was one of my first college friends. We were in UT Longhorn Band together, thick as thieves in our crew within100’s, and we so enjoyed bleeding orange, musicianship, and a lifetime great friendship.We experienced pledging, My line brother in Spring ‘82 which was an additional bond. We were so excited and proud when he was honored as a UT Distinguished Alum, so deserving. There are countless fond memories and he will be missed. Much love to Latisha and the family.

  • June 19, 2020 Reply
    Dr. Douglas M. Butler

    Rest in peace!

  • June 19, 2020 Reply
    Kym Morrison

    James was such a bright light in my graduate-school experience at the University of Florida. One had to be impressed by his humor, his intelligence, and his determination. He also loved to teach us East Coast folks about good Texas cooking, especially at his Juneteenth barbecues. I will truly miss him, but his memory will always bring me joy. I thank his family for sharing him with the world.

  • June 19, 2020 Reply
    Willie F. Trotty

    In addition to being a scholar, Dr. Wilson was a very caring person. He cared for his students and their careers. He cared for people. Dr. Wilson contacted me periodically to inquire about my health and to send me links to news items of interest. In fact, I received a text from Dr. Wilson at 8:30 a.m. on the morning God called him home. I will miss Dr. Wilson and I am praying for his family.

  • June 19, 2020 Reply
    Russell Jolivet

    In loving memory of James Wilson. What an awesome guy. You will be missed.

  • June 19, 2020 Reply
    Yvette Barker

    Dr Wilson will be missed. RIH 🙏🏽😇

  • June 20, 2020 Reply
    Edda L. Fields-Black, Ph. D.

    I can’t believe James is gone. We met in graduate school. And, since graduate school, I consider him one of my best lifelong friends. Even though we had not talked in a while, the strong connection was always there. His wit, charm, and flair are unforgettable and irreplaceable. And, James was a connector. He knew everyone; everyone loved him; and, he introduced his friends to each other so that we all became friends. Now, we are left with our memories of James which we will always treasure and treasured friendships with each other as comfort. I hope James knows how much he was loved and how much he is and will be missed. Rest in Peace My Friend.

  • June 20, 2020 Reply
    Bob Tignor

    I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of James Wilson, who studied at Princeton and received a PhD in African history. He was a superb teacher, who did exceedingly well leading small groups discussions at Princeton, then went on to successful careers in Wake Forest, which was deeply saddened to lose him to the University of Texas where he won outstanding teaching awards. But he was in his element at Prairie View where he inspired students to make their way academically. He was personable, outgoing, and articulate and was in line to become a college president. What a loss.

  • June 20, 2020 Reply
    Fred Bonner

    Such a brilliant man and an even more magnificent friend. Our serious conversations were always accentuated by laughter. Thank you for being a dear friend. Take your rest, we will meet again!

  • June 20, 2020 Reply
    D’Lisa

    I will miss his smile, laughter, and confidence.
    My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

  • June 22, 2020 Reply
    Walter Burroughs

    Before he was referred to as James and then Dr. James A. Wilson Jr., l knew him as Jimmy. We met my freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin during my Longhorn Band auditions. He was already a band member and we became the best of friends until his passing. He went on to become a brilliant scholar and the brother I never had. I mourn his passing. Selfishly, I will miss the space he occupied in my life, the lives of my family and our network of friends. My prayers to Letisha and their family. I miss him now and will continue to do so…

  • July 7, 2020 Reply
    Chris Rentzel

    I am deeply saddened by the loss of my lifelong friend, “Jimmy” (as I knew him) Wilson. We were drum majors together in the junior high school band and after that, were forever brothers in life. He was always a dear friend to me and I am stunned by this sudden loss. I grieve with all the other people in his life that had the pleasure of knowing this wonderful, kind man. My heartfelt condolences go out to his sister Letisha, other family members, and friends. When we remember James, lets remember his smile, his laugh, and his love.

  • July 7, 2020 Reply
    Chris Rentzel

    A life-long friend who will be terribly missed. Words aren’t enough to describe this kind and wonderful man. Condolences to Latisha, family, and friends.

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